OKLAHOMA CITY – The University of Oklahoma Board of Regents met today to approve enhancements to OU Online, administrative appointments, new degree programs and other items.
During the meeting, held on the OU Health Sciences campus, the Regents authorized OU to engage OU Education Services (OUES), a new nonprofit organization, to support OU in managing and delivering online programs and courses. OUES was created in collaboration with the university and will improve OU’s capabilities to increase education accessibility.
This new model for delivering online programs provides OU the flexibility and capabilities needed to innovate for the future and meet rising student demands for more accessibility to OU courses, programs and degrees.
OUES will include marketing, online course development, enrollment coaching, student success and other services necessary to help faculty and improve the student experience.
The move supports the university’s priority to increase access to an OU degree through online education and OU’s goal to become the regional leader in online education. In the last four years, OU’s online programming has grown from a few hundred students and a handful of programs to now include 3,100 students in 50 programs as of fall 2023. The university’s focus on providing high-quality courses, designed and delivered by world-class faculty, and best-in-class student services including tutoring, mental health counseling and career services, has resulted in an average semester-to-semester retention rate of 81% across all online programs.
“Broadening the path for more students to pursue a top-rate education is undeniably our highest priority at the University of Oklahoma, and our online programs have significantly enhanced our ability to do so,” said OU President Joseph Harroz Jr. “We’re remarkably proud of our achievements in the online learning space, but to ensure our upward momentum, we must reimagine the organizational structure to fuel our growth while continuing to offer the very best to our students.”
During the meeting, the Regents also considered several academic program modifications, including the addition of two new degree programs, each of which is strategically designed to meet growing workforce and societal needs. The board approved a new Master of Arts in Econometrics. Offered in an online format, the program concentrates on training in the field of econometrics and data analytics.
The Regents also approved a new aerospace and defense option for the Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies, which ties directly to strong industry workforce demands. According to the Oklahoma Department of Commerce, with more than 1,100 aerospace entities directly employing more than 120,000, aerospace and defense is Oklahoma’s second largest and fastest-growing economic sector. Offered online, the new aerospace and defense major option supports OU’s Degree Completion Program, which offers flexible and workforce-relevant online undergraduate degree programs designed to help adult learners achieve their educational and career goals.
The proposed degree offerings will now go before the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education for final approval.
The board approved several agenda items related to facility enhancements, including the construction of two new aviation hangars at OU’s Max Westheimer Airport. The construction of the first hangar marks the first phase of a multifunction Center for Aviation Excellence at OU, which will include state-of-the-art classrooms, lab and office spaces. Partially funded by a generous contribution from the Pigman Family Charitable Fund, the hangar is designed to house planes from the university’s cutting-edge fleet. In fall 2022, OU announced plans to expand its School of Aviation Studies, which includes increasing its fleet to 28 aircraft.
“The construction of this new hangar marks a new step in an exciting expansion of our top-ranked School of Aviation,” Harroz said. “This will not only help address the growing demand for aviation professionals, but also sets the stage for further innovation and excellence at OU.”
The Regents also approved the design development phase plans for the renovation and expansion of Jacobson Hall, one of the oldest buildings on the Norman campus which serves as home to the OU Welcome Center and Office of Admissions and Recruitment. In addition to fully renovating and modernizing the existing building while preserving the building’s historic character, the project will add approximately 10,000 square feet of space for campus tours, financial presentations, application workshops, one-to-one meetings with admissions counselors and prospective student recruitment events. In June 2022, the OU Board of Regents has approved the naming of Jacobson Hall’s campus visitor center to the Jones Family Welcome Center in recognition of a $15 million gift from longtime supporters Jonny and Brenda Jones to fund the project.
The board also approved modifications to several academic service fees for the 2024-2025 academic year. For the Norman campus, the changes include increases to College of Engineering and College of Architecture undergraduate program and technology fees, as well as increases to aviation course-specific special instruction fees. Due to the unique delivery of aviation courses, these fees were not consolidated in the tuition and fee simplification initiative that OU implemented starting with the fall 2022 semester.
The board also approved the modification of seven academic service fees and the deletion of two others at OU Health Sciences.
“At OU, our pursuit of providing an education that is excellent, affordable and accessible requires adequate resources, and these targeted increases will lead to enhancements that will ensure we can continue offering a transformative student experience and world-class teaching and research,” Harroz said.
The proposed changes to the academic service fees will now go before the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education for final approval.
Also approved during the meeting were new administrative appointments, including Susan Bynum, JD, as Vice President, OU-Tulsa.
The Regents also approved the formation of a search committee to fill the position of dean of the Honors College.
The board is set to next meet in March.
About the University of Oklahoma
Founded in 1890, the University of Oklahoma is a public research university located in Norman, Oklahoma. As the state’s flagship university, OU serves the educational, cultural, economic and health care needs of the state, region and nation. OU was named the state’s highest-ranking university in U.S. News & World Report’s most recent Best Colleges list. For more information about the university, visit ou.edu.
The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma (CNO) Advanced Technology Initiatives (ATI) has teamed up with the University of Oklahoma (OU) to research advanced transportation technologies, resilience to severe weather events, and defense and security challenges such as the development of counter-drone systems. The two entities have signed a three-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to achieve technological advancements, workforce development, economic growth, and scientific discovery, aligning OU’s academic objectives with CNO’s educational and economic priorities.
The University of Oklahoma Polytechnic Institute has made the first of several faculty hires. These faculty members add expertise in cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and software development and integration in preparation for the OU Polytechnic Institute’s first classes, which will begin in August 2024.
The University of Oklahoma will conduct a university-wide test of its emergency communication system the morning of Thursday, Feb. 22. The alert system, also known as RAVE, allows the university to keep students, faculty and staff informed of critical and/or important information regarding OU’s campuses in the event of a weather or safety emergency. The RAVE system is capable of using numerous alert methods, such as text messages, email, social media and/or phone calls.